FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Nov. 29, 2012

Contact:          Cheryl M. Sparks or John Sales

                        410-537-1017

MORE SAFETY ENHANCEMENTS TO BE ADDED TO THE BAY BRIDGE
MDTA Study Recommends Painted Buffer with Rumble Strips to Supplement
Safety Measures Already in Place

BALTIMORE, MD – The MD Transportation Authority (MDTA) recently completed an evaluation of additional safety measures that could possibly be implemented at the Bay Bridge (US 50/301) during “two-way” traffic operations.  The study concluded that enhancements should be made to the current lane markings on the westbound span, including the addition of a painted buffer and continuous rumble strips.

“The MDTA is continuously looking for ways to improve safety at all of its facilities,” said MDTA Executive Secretary Harold M. Bartlett.  “We undertook this study to build on existing safety measures at the Bay Bridge.  These enhancements will provide additional visual and physical guides designed to help drivers stay alert and stay in their lane during two-way operations.”

During periods of heavy eastbound traffic, the MDTA implements two-way traffic operations by “reversing” the left lane of the westbound span (Lane 3) for use by eastbound motorists.  Currently, this process involves the use of reversible pavement markings, overhead lane-control signs and traffic cones positioned at each end of the westbound span to divide opposing traffic.

Following an extensive examination of a wide range of options, the study workgroup recommends the additional step of creating a painted buffer between Lane 3 and Lane 2 (westbound center lane) using diagonal hash marks and continuous rumble strips.  Double solid lines would create a buffer space between lanes while discouraging motorists from changing or crossing lanes.  Rumble strips, which initially were installed along portions of the bridge in 2008, have proven effective in discouraging drivers from straying from their lane.  Rumble strips will now be installed continuously along the 4.3-mile span. 

Installation of the new lane markings and rumble strips is expected to begin spring 2013 before the next summer travel season.  The MDTA will monitor the performance of these improvements and consider if those same improvements would be applicable to the eastbound span, where two-way traffic may be used to accommodate maintenance/construction on the westbound span.

“We ask motorists, both commuters and vacationers, to take an active role in their safety when crossing the bridge by keeping their eyes on the road and not passing or tailgating,” said Mr. Bartlett.  “While these may seem like simple things, they are critical safety reminders for those using the Bay Bridge.”

The study workgroup was comprised of members of Parsons Brinckerhoff, Inc., a nationally recognized consultant firm, along with MDTA traffic and structural engineers, operations and police team members.  The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) guidelines were also reviewed to determine the suitability of the various options being studied. 

The safety evaluation examined traffic volumes and accident history for both spans, as well as potential solutions to further reduce accidents.  While options considered ranged from changes in maintenance of traffic to physical barriers, factors that precluded alternatives from further consideration included impacts to lane widths, weight, sight distance, traffic flow, emergency response and the potential for increased rear-end or other collisions.  The Evaluation of Additional Safety Measures at the William Preston Lane Jr. Memorial Bridge is available at mdta.maryland.gov.

Several improvements have been made over the past decade to improve safety on the Bay Bridge.  These include the installation of rumble strips along portions of the bridge and enhancements to the lane markings, lane-control system, signing and the procedures used by police and operations personnel for reversing the direction of travel on the bridge.